Friday, June 13, 2008
SCAM: THE UNITED HOMELESS ORGANIZATION
I've wondered for a long time about those people manning tables around New York City, the ones with the bright red "UHO" banners draped over the top. You'll find them in crowded tourist areas like Times Square, Penn Station, Union Square and Columbus Circle. They'll beg with shouts like, "just one penny to feed the homeless" or "please, sir, help the homeless."
Someone once told me it's a scam, that the men and women manning the tables just keep the money themselves. I never really took the time to investigate, but today I did.
The United Homeless Organization was founded 15 years ago by a group of homeless people. Their mission statement says they run a soup kitchen at a Bronx church, provide donated clothing to the needy and enable the homeless to raise money for themselves. Here's the rub. The first time a hobo takes to the street, he or she must turn over half of the profits to the organization. Each time, thereafter, the homeless pay a $15.00 fee and are allowed to keep the rest. Sometimes they can't even cover the $15.00 fee. Others can make a couple hundred dollars.
They put the money in transparent blue plastic jugs( think upside down office water bottles). On any given day, an average of 22 of these tables are set up in strategic, high visibility locations.
As a non-profit, UHO must file a 501C tax form with the federal government. They do and what's on it really tells the whole story. While, the homeless people are actually putting money in their pockets, so it seems, is the organization's only employee, Stephen Riley, the President of the United Homeless Organization.
In fiscal year 2006, the document shows the agency received $84,561 in public support. That would be the money you dropped into those plastic jugs. Now where does that money go? The 501C report notes that it has no employees and no volunteers and that no one, not even it's President are compensated. Really? Look down a little further in the report and you'll see how that 84 grand was spent.
* Program Services: 33,412
* Management: 46,215
* Expenses: 79,627
* Net assets 6767
Fascinating, isn't it. A further examination of the records shows money was spent on such things as travel, supplies, telephones, cars and get this, "entertainment."
Under "program services" $33,412 was spent. And while the document states there are no employees and that the President is not compensated, it appears he is indeed paid. Scribbled-in a little down the page is "support stipend." The amount:
$33,412. So, Stephen Riley's "program services" is essentially his "support stipend." If that's the case, and Riley is an indeed the only one in management at UHO, what do you suppose the $46,215 in "management" money is used for? Don't know for sure, but I'm guessing to increase his income to $79,627, which if you notice is the total expenses for the year 2006. His net assets are $6767, pretty much the difference between his "stipend" and what people gave. So, if I'm reading this right of the $84,561 dollars you gave to the "homeless" $79,627 went into Mr. Riley's pockets.
This is fraud and panhandling at its worst. You what this actually is? It's organized panhandling.